Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

Sullys Hill National Game Preserve
St Michael, ND

Wow! June is almost done. We've been here at Sullys Hill for 4 weeks now and time is flying by. We are having a blast! We'll be here thru the end of August, then headed towards Middlebury, Indiana where we'll be attending Entegra University, a 4-day in-depth training class on our Anthem motorhome. We'll also be meeting up with Jim & Deb in Michigan where they are workamping this summer; and were hoping to change out our couch and dining table while we're in Indiana.

We're getting lots of sunshine and outdoor work this summer.....

Staining the exterior of the visitor center......

.....lots of mowing, weed wacking and landscaping.....

....and repainting signs.

We got our ATV/UTV certifications in February.....

                                                          .....then added Ag Tractor......
Check out the video

...and Skid Steer last week!

The wildlife and scenery here is spectacular...

We visited a couple of local Points of Interest.....

Turtle Mountain Reservation

and Rugby, ND. The geographic
center of North America

While driving into town we spotted an unusual boat approaching one of the numerous boat ramps on Devils Lake.....

It's an M30 Bridge Builder.being tested after delivery to the Arny Engineering Regiment near  Camp Grafton at Devils Lake. The M30 is repacing the MK11 which has been in use by the Army for nearly 30 years.

Here's a link about the M30 if your interested....

M30 Bridge Builder

Here's what happens when the wind and weather conditions line up on Devils Lake......

These folks were catching white bass as fast as they could throw out a line. Shoulder to shoulder, catching on consecutive casts. Almost everyone of these folks caught 3-4 fish in the 5 minutes we pulled over to watch.

Shout out to Joan's Dad, Tommy....just turned 86 on Sunday....

....the same day Joan and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.

Well, that's about it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Elk and Bison and Deer.....Oh My!

Sullys Hill National Wildlife Preserve
Devils Lake, ND

Memorial Day finds us at our summer volunteer location, a bison and elk preserve managed by Fish & Wildlife. Sullys Hill started as a National Park in 1904 and was later transferred to USFWS. Today the preserve maintains a small herd of about 20 bison (currently there are an additional 4 red dogs/babies) and just over a dozen elk. Sullys Hill is 1 of only 4 national bison preserves. There is also a prairie dog 'town' and a few white tail deer.

Our campsite is inside the preserve in the maintenance area. We're asked to work 3 days a week performing some mowing and landscaping, visitor center, trash pickup and infrastructure maintenance such as sign painting, etc. There is an 'auto tour' route through the preserve so visitors can get up close to the bison from the comfort and safety of their cars. Joan and I have access to a UTV and have been driving the auto route and/or fence-line every day (including our days off) checking the fence and picking up litter. Really cool when your just just 20 - 30 yards from the bison as they move throughout the preserve.

The UTV allows us to get close to the elk as well...

We'll be here through the end of August, so if you find yourself traveling through North Dakota, be sure to stop by!

We've been in our new-to-us coach since December and we're really happy with our decision to upgrade. And even though the coach is 9 years newer than our previous coach there are still items that need a little TLC. While in Lake Mead we had the Aqua Hot system repaired as we had 2 bad pumps and a bad thermostat. We also had a chip in the windshield repaired.....small tirade here...40 years driving in Florida and the southeastern US = '0' chipped or cracked windshields. 6 years full-timing out west = 4 RV windshield chips & 9 jeep windshield chips/cracks!...tirade over...

Pocket Door on the floor
We left Lake Mead the end of April with 3 weeks to travel before we needed to report to Sully Hill. At our 1st stop near St George, Utah I noticed our pocket door sagging a little. The culprit was a missing screw in one of the hanging brackets so I pulled the door to replace the screw.
Also replaced a 12V water pump that went bad. I had changed out the Direct TV rooftop antennae to a Dish antennae but just couldn't seem to get all the channels I was supposed to. Finally after working with Dish and Entegra tech support we figured out the Direct TV inline power module and coax splitter were still connected and disrupting the Dish signal. I removed both of these items and Bingo...everything works as promised.

Our Entegra coach is quite a step up technologically from the Monaco we owned for 7 years. So Joan and I signed up for Entegra University in October. We'll be traveling to Middlebury, Indiana to attend a 4-day class along with 6 other couples where we'll be educated on all the various systems and maintenance of our personal motorhomes.

L_R Joan, Vicky, Harry, Jim, Brenda & me

We made stops in several areas on our way to Devils Lake to meet up with friends and family. In Ft Collins, CO we met up with my cousin Tim for a quick reunion and dinner.... in Custer, SD we met up with Vicky and Harry who are workamping at a to meet new friends Jim & Brenda and Larry & Sue...

.....went golfing with Phil, Jim & Harry.....and even got in a little motorcycling with Phil & Rudee.

Joan's cousin Robert and his wife Michelle stopped in as well and once he saw the elk in Custer State Park we couldn't keep him in the car!

It's a Boy!

Shout out to my youngest son Chris and Lindsey.....who have informed us we are to be grandparents for the 3rd time (their 1st) near the end of August-first of September.

Well that's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Goodbye Sharky

Jimmy Dale Crowe, a healthy baby boy was born on or about October 21, 1933 near Sikeston, Missouri to RW (Reuben) & Lois Crowe. There is some doubt about that date as all births and deaths were recorded whenever the traveling magistrate happened to pass through town. It seemed unusual that records reflected all local births and deaths appeared to have occurred the same day of that particular week. Oh yeah......another irregularity......the birth certificate indicated that Jimmy Dale Crowe was female. Jim always argued that point, but his family still enjoyed teasing him about that.

He grew up in Missouri with a younger brother Jerry and even younger sister Janice. Summers saw him riding with his father, a long distance truck driver. They made wagers as to how long it would take them to drive to their destinations; the winner choosing what they would eat for their next meal.....his father was good at this game and as a result Jim learned to love scrambled eggs with ketchup. The family moved to central Florida when Jim was a senior in high school. His brother hated Florida and ended up returning to Missouri as soon as he graduated high school. Jim kinda' liked Florida. He met and married a young lady named Wyonda Sue George....and soon after Charles Stephen Crowe arrived on the scene....followed 18 months later by Vickie Allyn Crowe.

Jim was athletic.....he had played football and baseball in high school and even tried out for the St Louis Cardinals as a pitcher. I've seen numerous pictures of Jim doing handstands and walking on his hands. He had hurt his knee playing football and eventually it hurt him so bad he had to have surgery to repair the damage years of 'living with it' had caused. After the surgery the discomfort was better, but the flexibility in his knee was restricted. He still enjoyed outdoor, shooting, golf. He was always fishing; offshore, coastal, freshwater; it didn't matter to him. I remember going shooting with him; he had an old lever action .22 rifle and he could throw a bottle cap in the air and shoot it before it hit the ground.

For years after his knee surgery he continued to enjoy bowling; and he was good at it. He had worked at a bowling alley, gave lessons and even bowled 2 perfect 300 games, bowling 12 strikes in a row in league play on 2 different occasions. Eventually his knees got so bad he had to give up bowling. And 40 years later his knees forced him to give up golf as well, but not before he scored 2 Hole in One's! He absolutely loved golf. He golfed every Wednesday....going into work several hours early so he could get off to play golf in the afternoon. And if he could talk Sue into it, he would golf every weekend at least once, maybe twice; both Saturday and Sunday. He loved going on trips to the mountains with some of his buddies for golf marathons, 2 or 3 rounds a day for several days in a row. He even played an entire round of golf without a knee. An infection following knee replacement surgery resulted in having to remove the infected prosthesis and leave him without a knee joint for several weeks while treating the remaining infection in his body. He decided that with his knee securely wrapped he could probably hit a golf ball. And he was right. He played 18 holes. My golfing buddies called him 'Sharky'.  20 years older than most of us, bad knees, both hips replaced, tri-focal glasses, he was still hard to beat on the golf course. Everybody wanted him on their team when a bet or bragging rights were on the line. Jim would tell them he had never lost a golfing bet....."If I lost the game, I just refused to pay" he would joke. He was fearless on the putting green. He would crush putts that would have rolled 30' past the hole if he missed.....but they always seemed to hit the center of the cup.

Over the years Jim worked at Holler Chevrolet in Orlando, FL, Glenn Joiner and Sons in Winter Garden and Winter Garden Lanes before he began working at the Post Office. He delivered mail, worked behind the counter and eventually was promoted to Assistant Post Master, Winter Garden. After that he was chosen as Officer in Charge in Ocoee, FL before being selected as Postmaster in Winter Garden where he continued to work until he retired after 30+ years with the postal system.

When he was 45 he and Sue bought 2 acres on a lake and acting as his own General Contractor proceeded to build a house with views of the lake from every room. Once the slab was poured and block walls were up, he along with family and friends installed the rafters, roof decking, shingles and windows; he framed the walls, hung drywall and paneling; did all the masonry to install Florida field stone on the interior and exterior of the fire place; before painting the house inside and out. This was his home for the next 38 years.

A few years before he retired, while on vacation in North Carolina he and Sue bought several lots on a mountain along the Blue Ridge Parkway as an investment or possibly a future vacation home. When he got home the realtor called to inform him that 1 of the 6 lots was already sold and offered to refund his money for the 1 lot or trade him another lot in the same area. He took the trade. The next trip there he discovered the replacement lot sat just above a natural crevice in the mountain giving him a dramatic view into the valley below and sunrises every morning. He decided this was the lot for a vacation cabin. The next year on another vacation trip he started talking to contractors about building a cabin, showing them sketches of a cabin he had drawn from pictures he'd seen. About 6 months later the contractor called telling Jim that he needed a 'draw' in order to continue work. "Continue work on what?"  Jim asked. The contractor told him they'd already dynamited the excess stone to make room for a basement, built the foundation and constructed exterior walls and roof rafters....they had about 1/2 the cabin completed.....all with no contract, formal plans or approvals from Jim. The contractor had assumed Jim's sketches and preliminary discussions about future construction were enough to proceed with building the cabin. The cabin turned out great, even if it was unexpected. Once he retired he and Sue started spending 6 months on the lake in Florida and 6 months at the cabin in the mountains.

Jim's other interests including painting and woodworking before moving into stained glass. Jim started making stained glass pieces of art; lampshades, window inserts, bowls, sun catchers and many others. First it was for fun, then people started requesting special custom pieces. He would create these pieces for the cost of the materials, no labor; he would even barter stained glass pieces for such things as tree removal and jobs too big for him to do personally.

Easter 2014 Jim was sitting at home watching TV when he suffered a stroke. The stroke left him without the use of his right arm or leg; a vocabulary of about 14 words; and the inability to effectively communicate. On Monday, March 18, 2018 Jim Crowe passed away in his sleep. Married for 65 years to his high school sweetheart, Sue; 2 children, Steve and Vickie; 2 grandchildren, Doug and Chris; and 2 great grandchildren, Tristyn and Greyson, and a 3rd great grandchild on the way.

These are just a few of the things I remember about Jim. He was my 'Go To' guy when I needed help. Someone I could go to lunch with when I was having a bad day and just needed a little pick me up. A sounding board to discuss ideas. The person I trusted when I needed advice.  I will miss Sharky.

My friends called him Sharky. I called him Dad.